Tuesday, November 8, 2011

things change!

Well, I'm no longer staving off unemployment-induced insanity. I've been hired for a full-time position and apparently forgot how to post! I'll have to try and not divulge too many thoughts or secrets about work... the whole getting-fired/Dooce factor.

Something I spent a lot of time working on in the past few months was a fantastic product, Brella Oregon Pinot Noir. The Web site has launched and it's amazingly beautiful, designed by a dear friend of mine. I highly recommend checking out all of the awesome wine tools the site offers! Very cool stuff.

I'll try and get back to posting more in the next few weeks and months. Bear with me!

Monday, August 29, 2011

summer must eats, vol. 2.

Can you say "slacker?" HA. I've been crazy busy, with lots of great stuff on the horizon and a great trip to New York under my belt, writing has fallen to the wayside. Well, at least writing I don't get paid for... Anyway, I will have to do a New York round up and get some photos posted, but the SLR stayed mostly packed away, so I don't have much to show.

Summer is winding down here in the Pacific Northwest. It's gray and cloudy today, and it's sucking my motivation to go for a run. So, to postpone any physical activity, I thought I'd post a summer must eat, only it's really a must drink. SANGRIA! I had a birthday party for the old man a few weeks ago, tapas style. I made a bunch of small finger foods and salads, and we washed them all down with a giant, soccer-camp style cooler of sangria. Let me tell you: This sangria is sneaky. I mean, the name says it all. Be sure to warn your guests to take it slow!

Two things I did that worked out great: 1) I froze about a two-cup block of good ginger ale to toss in as the guests arrived. This cooled the sangria and, we'll say, thinned it out. 2) I added a quart-size bag of frozen strawberries we had purchased at the farmer's market a few weeks ago. They were really delicious, and were sweet enough that I added no sugar to this recipe. Honestly, I probably wouldn't add sugar anyway, so unless you have a huge sweet tooth, it's not necessary.

The key to me is to get a wine that is full-bodied but not jammy or too fruit-forward. Obviously, Spanish tempranillo works great. I found a very decent sangria-quality wine at my local store for $6.99 a bottle. Just ask in any decent wine store, and someone should be able to guide you. Also, I use Don's Mix (linked below). There are recipes online to make your own, but I bought mine at a local quality liquor store.

Sneaky Summer Sangria
(approximately 30-40 servings - depending on your guests - you know what I mean)

3-4 bottles of tempranillo or other red wine
3/4 c. Applejack apple brandy
1/2 c. Don's Mix
Juice of 1 large or 2 small lemons
Juice of 1 orange
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
2 limes, sliced
Other fruit if you choose

In your appropriately sized mixing vessel, muddle the Applejack and fruit slices. Pour in the wine, juices, and Don's Mix and stir. Let flavors combine for several hours. Add 3-4 cups of ginger ale or club soda right before serving (or in individual cups). Garnish with citrus wheels. Party!!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

under pressure! and an awesome recipe.

We are going to NEW YORK in a few weeks, and I am feeling some pressure to pick JUST THE RIGHT PLACES for us to eat. For, like, 24 hours. I get pretty stressed out about these things, especially when there are a lot of options, because I live for fun, quality culinary experiences. I really, really do not fancy myself a foodie, nor do I think I have any kind of talent. But, I enjoy the heck out of it and it seems like food experiences are always so memorable and special to me. Whether traveling, entertaining, or just hanging with my man, I want everything to be Wonderful. And really, I know... first-world problems. Honestly, I enjoy this kind of "stress," except for the effect it has on my waistline. Tight pants are the pits.

Sigh, anyway, I've been slacking on writing and even taking pictures of my dinners because D is on vacation and we've been having too much fun. However, I did make an awesome recipe the other night that was a huge hit with both my brother, who came over for dinner, and D. No leftovers! Everything was devoured. I'm calling it Turkey Gyros, for lack of a better name.

I was craving gyros the other day, but they always make my stomach so upset, and I wanted a healthier alternative to the greasy, rotating meat you get in little storefronts. I was also craving falafel, but I wanted to avoid any kind of greasy frying. This came to mind, and it was spectacular. The gyro-esque flavors were spot-on, and fresh summer produce made it even better. Plus, no stove cooking! Everything went on the grill.

I can't wait to make it again! I used Greektown Billygoat seasoning from the Spice House, which is a family favorite for everything from kebabs to burgers to dips, but any spice blend should do.

Turkey Gyros (serves 4-6, depending on appetites)

1.25 pounds of ground turkey (I prefer the white and dark meat)
2 T. plain breadcrumbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon good Greek seasoning
Ground pepper
6 pitas, flatbreads, tortillas, pocket bread, etc.

Tomatoes, sliced
Cucumbers, sliced
Onions, sliced
Fresh parsley, chopped
Tzatziki sauce (here is a great recipe - I prefer to use Greek yogurt)
Feta or goat cheese (optional)
Hot sauce (optional)

Mix the turkey through the pepper and form into two-inch patties. Make an indention in the middle with your thumb to keep the shape. Grill or pan-fry patties until cooked, remove from heat and cover with foil. Grill pita/bread as needed. Have diners fill pita with the patties and toppings. Eat hot!

EDIT: I should note that if your spice blend doesn't contain salt, you may want to add some to the burger mix. I'm trying to cut back on the salt, so I didn't add any extra, but that spice blend does contain it.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

dinner, 7/22/11.

I've said before that I "like" "Food & Wine" magazine on Facebook, and I get some of the best menu ideas from them. They just do it right. Great tone, great posts and recipes, great photos. I love it all.

Friday night, at the suggestion of F&W, I made David Burke's Grilled Skirt Steak with Peaches, only I used flank steak. The butcher we frequent usually only has frozen skirt steak, and I didn't want to deal with it, so I got the flank. I really enjoy cooking flank steak. It marinates quickly and is easy to cook, and as long as you cut it right, it's delicious.

The peaches were an awesome touch and even the husband commented how much he liked them. I was pleased, especially considering that grilled fruit is not really his jam. This recipe paired wonderfully with the Arbor Brook Pinot Noir we enjoyed before/with/after dinner. 

Also on the plate was some grilled corn and a spinach salad. I've discovered an interesting method for making an almost-wilted spinach salad without the hot bacon dressing. I toast some sliced almonds in a pan and in the meanwhile toss the spinach with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and some soft goat cheese. Then, when the almonds are hot, I throw them in the bowl and mix everything together. It almost melts the cheese and softens the spinach, and it is soooooooo tasty. Don't forget salt and pepper!

Last night, we used the leftover steak for some tacos. That marinade pulls some serious double duty. Two perfect summer dinners!

Friday, July 22, 2011

dinner, 7/21/11.

Dinner was great last night! I made an awesome grilled veggie quinoa salad and just grilled some simply marinated chicken breasts. The night before, I had grilled a ton of red pepper and zucchini, so I just diced up the leftovers and tossed them into this salad. Elegant, easy, tasty, and any veggies you like would work! I'm just going to grill extra vegetables all the time now to have around for this recipe.

Grilled Veggie Quinoa
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups leftover grilled veggies, diced (zucchini, eggplant, pepper, onion, anything really!)
3 green onions, chopped
Handful parsley, chopped (or any herbs would work)
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

1 T. white balsamic vinegar
1/2 T. lemon juice (more to taste, I like mine pretty acidic)
1 T. olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Cook quinoa and cool thoroughly. I find it's best to cool it in a bowl rather than the pan or it can get mushy. Add remaining ingredients and toss until well combined. Chill thoroughly and serve. Can be made the night before and leave the dressing off to avoid sogginess. Yum!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

hey ladies, vol. 1.

Women, why are we so hard on ourselves? Why are we so hard on each other? Look, I'm guilty as charged for being judgy toward other women, but what is it in my brain that makes me think mean things? I certainly don't think I'm better than many people (except for criminals, litterers, and generally rude folks), but I can't help having negative thoughts at times. In Chicago, where I just spent six boiling hot days, apparently shorts so short that they are not even really pants at all are in, and I couldn't help but think how inappropriate they looked on some (fine, most) women. However, I don't have the confidence to wear something like that myself, because my body isn't perfect. Am I jealous of other women's confidence, or are they inappropriate?

I can also say that, without question, being in a bathing suit is my idea of hell. If I DO go to hell someday, I will be wearing a string bikini and stuck behind a triple-wide stroller on Michigan Avenue. What makes me so insecure about putting on an outfit that millions of women don't even think about, regardless of their shape or age? Why do I and other women pick on ourselves so much and want to be perfect? I have seen so many friends who are disappointed in post-pregnancy bodies and upset that they aren't flawless, and it makes me so sad because I know at the end of the day, most of us are really doing the best that we can. Why isn't it enough to be healthy, happy, and imperfect?

This is such an age-old issue that has been hashed and rehashed for years. It's just on my mind today. I know everyone is quick to blame the media and "society's pressure" of what is acceptable, but I think it's more than that. I think somehow we are hard-wired to compete, I guess, with those around us. And in order to make ourselves feel better, we can't help but pick others apart, even if it's in silence.

So, what do you think? Are you confident? Are you self-conscious? Do you fake it 'til you make it? And how do you shake yourself out of a self-hating funk?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

warning: a conversation about makeup containing adult language.

I always say I don't wear much makeup, but I LOVE LOVE playing with it, smelling it, touching it, trying it on, and then washing it all off. There are products that we've all heard about as "the makeup artist's favorite" or "must-have items." I've found success with some, and others were a bust. Like Maybelline Great Lash Mascara. People love it, swear by it, have for years. For me, it makes my already-decent lashes too spiky and spidery. Or as I've mentioned previously Philosophy's Hope in a Jar was a no-go for me.

If you've ever read any kind of women's fashion, fitness, or lifestyle magazine, you've probably heard of NARS Orgasm blush. And very clever there, NARS, giving a product a sexy name to draw interest. Anyway, this summer brings a special compact with the Orgasm and a bronzer side-by-side. I totally splurged and purchased the Orgasm/Laguna combo, and I have to say it's one of the nicest, most fool-proof products I've ever used. I look... beachy, and glowy, and refreshed with the combo. If I had a nice enough picture of myself, I'd post it!

So, dear trio of regular readers, next time you need some blush and a pick-me-up, I'd recommend checking it out!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

summer must eats, vol. 1.

Summer is finally here, which I have to say is one of the most magical things to happen to all of Oregon. The thermometer may read only 80 degrees, but the sun is HOT, and there is no such thing as air conditioning. The second floor of my house is definitely toasty, and it kills my appetite doing all of the housewife junk that I accomplish each day. Hahaha, kidding. I barely know how to vacuum.

Anyway, one of my very favorite things to eat when it is HOT is cucumber anything. Salad, soup, in gazpacho (this is coming later when the tomatoes are decent), with hummus, and pretty much any way you can imagine. It's like chewing water. But my most favorite way to eat cucumbers is an old family favorite I'll share: sour cream cucumbers.

Basically, you peel two cucumbers if they are the thick-skinned garden variety. English cucumbers you can leave the skin on if you want. Then you slice them thinly. Wash and chop three green onions. In a big bowl, whisk a cup of sour cream or even plain Greek yogurt would be great, two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, and a tablespoon of sugar. Toss the cucumbers and onions in the dressing and I like to refrigerate for at least an hour. I also prefer to salt and pepper upon serving because the salt leaches liquid from the cucumbers as they sit, and the dressing becomes too watery.

I could eat a whole bowl of this. Actually, I DID eat a whole bowl of this for dinner last night. And there's no picture because, hey, peeled cucumbers in sour cream has to be the least exciting picture ever. So go, now, to the farmers market and store, and make it!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

mid-week brunch? why not!

I woke up with a lot on my mind this morning. Last night, a friend of mine told me that I "sounded like a f--ing lame 40-year-old who's given up." I *think* there was some good intent in there... it was meant to shake me up or inspire me somehow, but obviously that's a zinger. It stung, and it made me think that I'm somehow not painting a picture of how I feel about my life. It put me on the defensive (how could it not?), and once you're on the defensive on anything, it's all downhill from there.

This job-hunting business has been tough. I feel a little foolish for thinking it would be easier (not easy, but not this hard), and sometimes I get discouraged. My confidence gets rattled and I feel down. But, I work very hard to maintain a normal schedule, I have a wonderful support system, I've had some amazing opportunities that NEVER would have come my way without choosing this path, and I am hopeful that something good will happen soon. I do my best to stay positive and happy, busy, and healthy. If that's lame, then I guess I'm lame!

In all reality, I have a wonderful life and am so very lucky. I get to hike, write, run, drink wine, ride my bike, eat great food, love my dog, love my husband and family, meet new friends, chat with and see my beloved far-away friends, and a million other things that most of this world could only dream about. I hope to start volunteering soon, which is something I've always wanted to do more of, and it's a great opportunity to get involved in lieu of a job right now. So, in spite of my friend's comment, I like my life. Sure, it could be "better" in a lot of ways, and maybe someday my crazy dreams will be realized. It won't be for my lack of trying! So it's one day at a time right now. Some are really busy, some are quiet, like today. Mostly, I dream big, work hard, and feel grateful for what I have today.

Anyway, the point was that having some extra time on my hands gives me the opportunity to make brunch for the man and me on a cloudy Thursday while he works from home. I'm only calling it brunch because we ate it at 11. No bloody Marys, unfortunately. However, I'd been looking for an opportunity to try ruffly eggs, and with our fridge nearing empty, it was perfect for this morning. Fresh but comforting, didn't take too long, pretty healthy, and minimal ingredients!

I put basil in with my eggs and we ate them on a bed of arugula tossed with a little olive oil and white balsamic vinegar (one of my favorite things ever), some shaved parm, and a piece of toast. I overcooked the eggs a little bit, so they were not as poach-y, runny as I like them, but now I know! Next time, I think I will try it with some pasta and veggies. Yum!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

lessons on the internet.

I had my first e-mail address when I was a senior in high school. I was taking a class at Baker University, and it came with my own, personal electronic mailbox. This, I thought, was so cool. I could e-mail the three other people I knew with addresses! My dad refused to spring for Internet at home, so I would go to the campus library to write to my few friends. Already a letter writer, I was quickly taken with the concept of telling someone something without calling them or waiting for the post.

Since then, I've had accounts at pretty much all of the major providers. AOL, my university, Hotmail, Yahoo, Mac.com, now Gmail, not to mention at places I've worked. As the Internet grew and took over our lives, I pretty much laid down and let it steamroll me. A friend of mine jokes that there's nothing I can't find on the Internet if someone wants to know it. That I chalk up to my former life as a copy editor and needing to verify every single detail in an article (THIS girl has never had a correction run... very proud of that...).

Eventually I had a Friendster account. Remember Friendster? I found a guy in my neighborhood who wanted to give me drum lessons, but I never met up with him for fear he was a murderer. I also had a Myspace account, and I still shudder at the frenetic disorganization of that site. Both accounts are long dead because, after resisting as long as I could, I signed up for Facebook.

Oh, how I wish I could be a person who says I hate Facebook, but I don't. It's so fun to share photos with friends and family who are far away. I turn off the rational part of my brain that worries about oversharing and try to post only what I wouldn't mind anyone in the world knowing about me. Though my Facebook is private, it led me to become more secure and open with the concept of sharing my thoughts and ideas in an open forum.

I was late to the game blogging and Tweeting. It just seemed too personal, and who would really care? Believe me, I am acutely aware of the fact that no one gives a darn about what I think. Nothing I say is earth shattering. But still, I felt the need to start putting myself out into the Interuniverse. I've been cultivating my online personality in the past several months, I guess before someone assigns one to me. And that brings me to what I believe are the rules of the Internet. Call it Internet Personality 101 According to Totally Nutts. They are at least the ones to which I adhere for my own personal sanity and well-being. If you're not going to set your Twitter/blog/whatever to "private," you need to have some ground rules:

1) Once your opinions and thoughts are out there, they are out there. Don't Tweet, blog, or post anything you wouldn't want your employer to know or at least guess about you. And don't post anything you aren't prepared to defend. The anonymous troll is the true dictator of the Internet, and prepare to be challenged on things as simple as "dogs are great!" because someone will come along and say, "are you anti-cat? There's no way dogs are better than cats." And then it begins. You're the cat hater, and everyone will spread your blog around and you'll be inundated by e-mails and comments from cat lovers around the world.

2) Other people use the Internet. People you know! Don't post anything you wouldn't want your fellow employees to know. Like "Geeeeezzzz, I can't believe these slobs didn't clean the bar before I came in. I hate this job!" I cannot tell you how many times I have heard of people doing this. Just don't be friends with people you work with if you cannot control your griping!

3) You have a face in photos. Don't post any pictures you wouldn't want your family or employer to know about.

4) Don't post about your awesome day off when you called in sick. AKA: Don't shoot yourself in the foot, dummy.

5) There is no such thing as "tone." Don't assume people will feel your sarcasm or snark through the screen. If you ironically post something dumb while trying to be a smartypants, like a racist comment, assume that people will take it at face value. See: Gilbert Gottfried and Aflac.

6) Don't say things on the Internet that you wouldn't say out loud to strangers or figures of authority. This could kind of be a 5b)... Watch out for personal information, deep secrets, and keeping with your own voice and personality. For example, I try not to swear in my writing. It's unlikely I'd want to curse up a storm in front of my boss. Plus, there's generally a better, more expressive word for whatever swear I would typically use. I prefer to keep my swearing in writing to PG-13, but only when I need to, dammit.

7) Don't assume people care and don't get frustrated by it. There are millions of Web pages out there. The chances of becoming a "hit" blog or site are slim to none. Do it for yourself, and do the best you can. Maybe some day, it will have a bigger purpose. You never know. Having said that...

8) Have a purpose. Whether it's to keep friends updated on your life, practice your writing skills, or rant about your personal politics, it's good to try to have a point. Don't be vague and whiny! It's boring and gets old really fast. "Life is so hard," "some people really let me down," "why can't I find a man?" Ugh. No one. Wants. To. Hear. It. Get a diary or a private blog and kvetch there. Otherwise, you just seem like you're fishing for attention, and I am NOT going to ask you what is wrong.

All of these "rules" come down to that one concept: Think before you post. With personal information, this goes without saying. If you can't keep your finger off of the button, maybe stay away from the button. Now, I'm going to go re-read all of my blog posts and Tweets and delete anything stupid... What rules do you set for yourself online?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

dinner 6/27/11. too ugly to photograph.

Wow, was dinner ugly last night. However, it was very tasty! A simple cucumber salad and some grilled garlic bread (still making our way through a baguette we bought Saturday!) aside some grilled dijon chicken.

I need to remember this marinade I whipped together because it was very flavorful, if ugly, and would be great with any veggies but specifically asparagus. Also, boneless or bone-in chicken work, either way. We used boneless, skinless thighs, but I think skin and some flavor from the bone would be great.

I don't think it was the chicken's fault that it was ugly. We just did a bad job cooking it.

Grilled Dijon Chicken
Amount of chicken your meal requires
3 tablespoons of Dijon mustard (Beaver Mustard is my favorite - it's SPICY)
3 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 slice of white onion
2 T. each of fresh basil, parsley chopped
1 T. fresh rosemary
Juice and zest of one lemon
Salt & pepper to taste

In a food processor or blender, mix together mustard through S&P, place chicken in large freezer bag or a bowl just big enough. Coat with the marinade and chill at least one hour. Grill chicken until done, basting with the marinate as you put it on the grill (not after, the marinade has raw chicken!).

Monday, June 27, 2011

bounty. so much bounty.

Many Saturdays in Chicago we would leash up the dog and walk to the Green City Market early in the morning. Generally, we would get there right before the crowds hit but after the stroller brigade had invaded. We'd find some choice produce - usually squash, tomatoes, some herbs, mushrooms, whatever looked really great and in season - and enjoy our picks. It was a lovely experience and a great tradition of summer that I relish.

This Saturday, we made it to our first Portland Farmers Market at PSU downtown. Oh. My. Goodness. It put the Chicago market to shame, and the Green City market is nothing to sneeze at. Granted, Oregon is one of the top food-producing states in the U.S., but wow. Everything I saw was beautiful, with many organic purveyors and some fantastic food stands. I barely resisted the urge to buy a FOUR DOLLAR artichoke, just because it was so pretty. I don't even really LIKE artichokes that much! It just looked like the world's most beautiful, edible cactus.

I took the opportunity to play around with a Composer Pro and funky lens from Lensbaby and try to get some serious food porn.

Not technically food, but if you've ever eaten a Pine State Biscuit, you know it's the business. They have a stand at the market. Giant cast-iron pots of boiling oil with fried chicken in them = awesome.

Real seafood at the market. 

Garlic scapes! Now that I know what to do with these, I want to get some next week.

STRAWBERRIES. We bought a half-flat. On Saturday. There are two small boxes left. Nom.

 Sauteed veggies from Verde Cocina. More on this in a minute...

Some sort of pretty flowers. There were two people, pulling all kinds of beautiful flowers from buckets and hand-tying bouquets. Lovely.

This woman is hand-pressing and grilling corn tortillas for Verde Cocina. I watched her for 15 minutes and wanted to hug her. I could write a huge post on my love of Mexican food, especially fresh tortillas, but another time.

Chilaquiles. Fresh tortillas, scrambled eggs, white bean salad, kale, sauteed veggies, and kicky salsa with a little crumble of cheese. The. Perfect. Breakfast.

We ended up leaving with the aforementioned strawberries, a microscopic bag of morel mushrooms, a pound and a half of English peas, some zucchini, and a bunch of basil. I decided to give risotto a try for the first time. Wow. Something I learned about risotto: Your patience will be rewarded! It was perfect, and delicious, and the sweet, fat peas were amazing in it with some lightly sauteed morels. Like heaven. 

Heaven, right here...

We had a balsamic-strawberry and arugula salad and some grilled baguette to finish off the meal. It was magical. Oh Oregon. Just when I needed that boost! Can't wait to see what I discover next weekend. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

two-meal quinoa.

Dinner tonight is one of my favorite, lazy dinners. It involves only one pot, one bowl, and leftover veggies. If you're not me, you eat half of it and save the other half for tomorrow's lunch. If you're me, you eat two-thirds of it and then wonder how to pad it for another meal, or resist eating the remainder in an hour.

Here's how I make mine. Really, you can do whatever you want with it.

1/2 c. quinoa, cooked and cooled
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
1/2 cucumber, chopped
Handful of grape tomatoes, chopped
Onion, chopped
Green pepper, chopped
Splash of olive oil
Splash of red wine vinegar
1/4 lemon, juiced
Salt & pepper

Combine, chill for an hour, and eat! The best. By the way, what is up with recipes calling for quinoa to be soaked for hours or overnight? I rinse and cook. Maybe that's just me... Shortcuts abound! Bon appetit!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

mountaincountrycity girl.

I was born and raised in Kansas. Not on a farm, but in several different towns, ranging from the college town where I was born to the Kansas City suburb to the central-state county seat to the town of 3,000 where my dad grew up. Each has a distinctive vibe and offers a different view of a state most people associate with Dorothy, a church full of bigoted jerkwads that I refuse to even mention by name, and tornadoes. I was never much of a country girl, save for a few rides on horses here and there. Really, I've always been more of a city girl who knows how to camp. Though I do enjoy cowboy boots and I have been run over by a four-wheeler, so I have a little country girl cred.

When I was 4 years old, my grandparents took me to Colorado for a road trip. I vaguely remember being overwhelmed by the looming Rockies. It was several years before I went back, but I remained awed and drawn in by the mountains. I saw the ocean for the first time a few years later, and that image of an expanse of water as far as my eyes could see remained with me as well. When I was 12, I went to Chicago. I ate it up, loving the architecture and the buzz and the lakefront. It was so exciting and busy, and my pre-teen self said "self, you will live in this city some day." I knew I was made for Chicago, and vice versa.

I lived there for longer than I lived anywhere else: Eight years. People ask me where I'm from, and I tell them Chicago more than half the time. It's not that I don't love Kansas in its own way, but Chicago became such a part of my identity. It's MY city, and I am a part of it as well. If Chicago had mountains, or an ocean (the lake SO does not count), I can't imagine we would have left it.

My theory used to be that I was half city mouse and half country mouse, still appreciating a sweeping field of wheat and in love with the idea of having goats some day. About a month ago, I realized that I'm about two-thirds city mouse and one-third mountain mouse. That ratio can change from day to day, but I really do need those mountains in my life right now, even if Portland might be a little too friendly for me. I had better not lose my edge with all this niceness around me!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

how I hike.

This is how you snack at the top of a strenuous hike. A little bit of Olympic Provisions Nola sausage on an everything bagel flat. There were also some strawberries. We were going to pack wine, but saved that for after the hike.

I know, you're thinking "what, no cheese?" Just seemed excessive.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

dinner. 6/9/11

It looks like the SUN is in my kitchen in this photo! And it's the only one I took! So deal with it. Ha. Chick food for dinner tonight. Tuna salad with tomato, red pepper, red onion, lemon, dijon mustard, capers, S&P. A couple of soda crackers. I've been craving zucchini, so I shaved a small one with the vegetable peeler and tossed it with lemon, olive oil, some mint, and a touch of parmesan.

I was happy. It was dinner. I didn't turn on the stove. Works for me!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

trying to get pretty.

My skin hates me these days. You'd think with all of the moisture in the air here, it would be dewy and clear. You would be wrong. I've been bouncing all over the place on facial products and having a hard time finding anything that works. After a couple of mediocre tries at the drugstore, I decided to suck it up and buy the infamous Hope in a Jar by Philosophy. I'd heard it works miracles. It did not work at all for me. First of all, it smells very, very medicinal and harsh. I felt like I was at the doctor's office. I know unscented is preferred in facial products, but couldn't they add a little lavender or something? Secondly, it stung my face as though it had a ton of SPF. Thirdly, I broke out in tiny blemishes, almost like a rash. I gave it a week, but no dice.

Lucky for me, Sephora has a great return policy. So, I drove down to the mall and very easily got my money back (thank you, Sephora!). Instead of impulse buying, I asked for a sample of a product I'd heard of: Boscia's Luminizing Black Mask.

My husband asked me if I was going to some kind of extreme football game. Then I chased him around the house and tackled him. He was terrified. Ahh, marriage...

Anyway, it is goopy and black, like I'd imagine oil from the barrel looks. There wasn't enough in the sample to cover my entire visage, but I smeared what I had on my freshly washed face and waited about 15 minutes until it dried. Then the fun part: It peels off! I wish I had pictures, but he was asleep and I had my hands full. It was so fun to pick and peel it off. I looked like an alien in a science-fiction movie.

 Guys, this stuff is awesome. My skin was soft and smooth underneath, and it was totally gentle but not over-moisturizing. I'll probably head back to Sephora in the next couple of weeks (it's far away! At the mall!) and grab this if I can scrounge up the cash. It's $34 for 2.8 ounces, which I think would last for quite a while if I used it twice a week. Can't wait to see how terrifying I look when I cover my entire face with it!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Yeesh! I have not posted for a while. I'm not so busy that I can't write, but I guess I haven't had anything that interesting to say. And we have had several guests (and more coming!)  the past few weeks to keep us busy.

One of my very, best, favorite things about Portland is the quality and quantity of awesome little dining establishments. Not just restaurants but also the food cart culture is amazing. Needless to say, we have a lot of options. Our dear friends who love food as much as we do visited for several days last week, and I knew I needed a fairly edited list of favorites from which to choose. I wanted to hit what I thought were most important to me but also fit their expectations and palates!

This post would be ridiculously long if I went through our entire weekend, but I want to highlight the places we were able to visit and express our love for them. There was a five-mile hike thrown in there, too, so don't think it was a weekend of total fatness!

Pine State Biscuits - Never disappoints. Though I don't know how fried chicken on a biscuit could let anyone down...

Olympic Provisions - Charcuterie. Pickles. Bread. Cheese. We are carnivores, so this was a no-brainer.

Bamboo Sushi - First certified, sustainable sushi restaurant in the world. Amazing food, ambiance (especially from our seat in the open front window), and drinks. Doesn't hurt that it's right next door to my favorite pizza place and you can smell wood-fired pizza while eating super-fresh salmon. A new favorite for me is the habanero masago smelt roll. My face was on FIRE, and I liked it.

Barista - Great coffee, great vibe, delightful people. Beer in a coffee shop! I love it all.

Hiking! - This is a great hike for almost anyone who doesn't mind breaking a sweat. Starting on the Wahkeena side is my preference. It was just gorgeous, and our guests loved it.

Double Mountain Brewery - Post-hike pizza and beers in adorable Hood River. A bike race to watch that day, too! Awesome all around.

Everybody's Brewing - Stopped in here for the view and a beer. Gorgeous look at Mt. Hood from the Washington side! And I recommend the Country Boy IPA.

Pok Pok Noi - It seems like everybody knows about Pok Pok, and with good reason! We just had a little snack of some fish sauce wings to go since our dinner wasn't until late. The papaya salad and sticky rice are my go-to here as well.

Beast - OK, this is one of the most regarded restaurants in Portland. I could write an entire post detailing our meal, but I won't. They offer a tasting menu and optional wine pairing. It was a good dinner at a great price, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't the greatest meal of my life. Some of the pairings were huge misses for all of us, which was so disappointing. The soup, charcuterie, salad, and dessert were pretty out-of-this-world. I'm glad we went, but I can say now that I much prefer DOC, just half a block away. Those guys killed me with their food a couple months ago, and I cannot wait to go back.

Our friends' flight was mid-afternoon and it was another beautiful day, so we had time to get in a beer on the patio at Prost and sandwiches from Garden State/Burgatroyd. To quote our guest, "It's a good thing we came here last because I could sit here for an entire day." It's an addictive place to be!

This is the tip(-py top!) of the iceberg as far as my list of favorites in this city. If I sent this out and asked for opinions, I'd probably get a ton of criticism saying, "But what about Screen Door?" "You forgot Toro Bravo!" "How could you miss Apizza Scholls?" But, I can say with confidence, it was a successful weekend that left our friends wanting more... and this is good news, because they will come back!

Friday, May 20, 2011

fill up the juke.

If you aren't listening to this song, YOU are totally nuts.

The Unfazed, Dolorean

Could listen to it 100 times plus 100 more.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

dinner, 5/18/11

Kind of a boring dinner tonight, but it was really quick and very easy to prepare. I had a bunch of champagne mangoes that were just about to turn, so I diced them up with some red and yellow bell pepper, some onion, some cilantro, lime, and some minced jalapeno. Is anyone else mystified by the inconsistent heat of the jalapeno? Half the time, they taste like bell peppers. The other half of the time, my tongue withers off. This one was hot, and I liked it.

Wrapped some tilapia in foil after sprinkling it with some seasoned salt and lime. Grilled it for 10 minutes and topped it with the mango relish (salsa?). The side was a simple arugula salad, which didn't really go, but we ate it anyway. You know, I don't care much for tilapia, but it was cheap and quick and worked fine here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

in the wilderness, or, how we maybe got the hantavirus.

OK, I have been slacking on the blog the past few weeks, but things have been crazy. One of the fun events being that cousin Matt came to see us from California. We had a wonderful time! I took him up to the top of Angel's Rest to catch a nice view of the Columbia River Gorge. We were up at the top, having a snack, and this brave little chipmunk kept practically running over the tops of our shoes. So, what does Matt do? He bends down and puts his hand out, with an almond in the palm of it, to feed the little dude. And what does the little bugger do? Bites him, of course!

Doesn't he look innocent?

I was pretty insistent that we take Matt to the hospital, but he protested and said "No! Nothing happened the last time an animal bit me." I said "you mean you've done this before?" Turns out, he's been bitten two OTHER times by wild rodents. The first time as a kid when a squirrel attacked him, resulting in rabies shots, and the second time in college... doing the EXACT same thing he was doing when this guy bit him.

Anyway, that was a week ago, and he seems to have survived. I wasn't so much worried about rabies as I was about some sort of chipmunk fever or bringing the plague back. He's gone to see his folks and hasn't come down with any strange diseases... yet. I know, there's some kind of joke in here about squirrels and Nutts... just let it go, man.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

new ideas.

I had an idea in my sleep last night that I'm actually going to see if I can bring to life. Continuing with a food theme, of course, I thought it would be fun to try and Tweet two recipes a day. One vegetarian and one non-vegetarian entree. Include a list of the most important ingredients and a link to the recipe, and people could have a shopping list and dinner idea in the palm of their hands or on their computer screen. Voila! Meals on the Fly is born.

Already I can tell that this could get tough with more complicated recipes, but I'm thinking of keeping it to simple, weeknight meals. Something you can put together either in advance or in an hour and have dinner ready. Today I posted our favorite manicotti recipe, which I'm making for dinner since I had a tray of frozen ones, and an oven-baked pork chop recipe. Because, well, I love pork chops.

Tell your friends! Follow me!

Monday, May 2, 2011

pork and politics.

I made chipotle-pork cheeseburgers last night and I forgot to take a picture, and dang they were delicious. I also made a grilled romaine salad. Have to say, grilling lettuce is an awesome technique. If you're already using your grill, it takes about four minutes to slice some heads of romaine in half, brush with olive oil, and grill until charred/softening. I cut ours up first and dressed with a little bit of Caesar dressing, though serving the grilled halves intact would be great presentation for a dinner party.

(An aside here: Look, I try not to make this blog political for a number of reasons. Yoga and dinners are boring, yeah, but at least they don't stress me out. But I would be remiss not commenting on recent events.)

ANYWAY, we were watching some television, flipping through the channels, when I saw the announcement that President Obama would be speaking. I immediately flipped open my laptop and hit Twitter, news feeds, and Facebook at the same time. Soon, Wolf Blitzer was telling me that the presidential address would be regarding the capture of Osama Bin Laden. Nearly 10 years after 9/11, he was dead, killed by U.S. forces. Much like I can recall 9/11 and my parents recall events like the assassinations of JFK and MLK, I think I will probably remember how and when I heard this announcement.

It sent my mind back to where I was, where my friends were, what was going on in our lives that September a decade ago. How after the horrific events, we all wondered when it would be OK to laugh again, how we could ever board an airplane again, what did this mean for the future of our country? I knew people who joined the military in the following months, compelled by the desire to protect and defend the United States. Others of us had just graduated from college and wondered what this meant for our own futures? Not selfishly, but in the sense of our families, our working lives, our years ahead, and the shape of America as a whole.

For a long time, everyone seemed more patriotic, and while the fears we all carried faded, of course no one forgot what happened. I remember sitting in the Millennium Hilton in December 2003, across from Ground Zero, a week after it had reopened. The windows that were blown out had been replaced, rooms refinished, structures tested, and I was staying there on my first-ever business trip and first time in New York City. Every morning, I would wake up and watch the sun rise over the gaping hole in the ground and cry, unable to get the horrible images of destruction, despair, and death out of my head when faced with the ruins where so many had died. Being confronted with the reality of terror, adulthood, beginning a career I wasn't sure about after months of weird job situations, so far away from my family and friends, and alone in the biggest city in the United States, I was so scared. But I also was proud, seeing the backhoes hauling debris in the morning, digging out and starting over. I'd get myself up and put a suit on, hearing guys in hard hats yelling at each other in that only-in-New-York accent. Knowing this city would go on, and the world would go on, and I would be OK myself in adulthood and beyond.

I don't know if I feel that justice has been served by the death of Osama Bin Laden, but I am glad that he is no longer free in the world, especially living in a mansion in Pakistan. Those who lost loved ones and have lived with fear and devastation at his hands certainly deserve to feel vindicated. It doesn't feel right to me to outwardly celebrate someone's death, but as many on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere have posted, Mark Twain's quotation sums it up pretty succinctly: "I've never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure."

Saturday, April 30, 2011

dinner, 4/29/11.

Decided I'd make a nice dinner since the husband had been out of town and I figured he was sick of eating in restaurants. I "like" "Food & Wine" magazine on Facebook, and the dinner suggestions they post are always great, so I went with Spaghetti with Escarole & Bacon and Mushroom Salad with Mint.

The only variations I made were that I (EGADS) microwaved the bacon for time's sake because it was 10:00 at night. Also, I used my preserved lemons in the salad instead of fresh lemon zest. YUM. The salad was awesome. I thought the mint would stand out more but really it gave the earthy mushrooms a subtle freshness and was great with the salty, preserved lemon. The pasta was great. I love, love, love Bionaturae pasta. The organic spaghetti cooked perfectly. For dried pasta, it's definitely my favorite product, and really hard to mess up and overcook.

We each had a glass of a Sicilian grillo that we bought a few weeks ago, and it was not right for this meal. Too mineral and seemingly acidic, but still tasty. Grillo is an odd grape, usually used in marsala and blends. It's gaining popularity as a standalone wine. I like it, but not with this.

Then we collapsed. I slept like a baby. This makes six days in a row I've eaten bacon. Relax, I only used four slices in the entire pasta dish. Hmm, wonder how I can get my bacon in today?

Thursday, April 28, 2011


I've had about enough lately of people telling me where to go, what to do, where to stand, smile now, etc. So, I figured I might as well go to Bikram today and let someone yell at me some more! It was one of those horrible, hot days where the air feels like it's coming from hell and just breathing makes you sweat. For the first time in 10 classes, I had to sit down during the standing series. And I almost fell asleep during savasana.

Taking a week off... I felt it. On top of it being a ridiculously hot session, my limbs and joints lost some of their flexibility. I hung in there, though. There was a new girl, her first day, and she stayed in the room and did great. I found myself giving her advice, and I surprised myself a little. I told her to come back the next day, especially after such a hot class, and she would get a lot out of it. And it's true. Today, I was tired. My balance is always bad when I'm feeling weak, so I fell out of a lot of postures. I had to sit down twice, and I had less flexibility than before. But, I will be going back again because the next time will be better. I hope!


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

dinner, 4/27/11.

Haven't done a dinner post in a while. I'm pretty happy with what I pulled together for myself tonight. Sorry the picture isn't great. It's from my phone because I didn't want to get out the camera and freak out the dog while he is sick (he hates cameras).

Chickpea Stew

1/2 T. olive oil
1/2 onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. coriander
1/2 jalapeno, minced (optional)
Salt & pepper
1 can chickpeas, drained
Broth or water (enough to cover chickpeas in your pot)
1 14.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes (I used Muir Glen Fire-Roasted crushed tomatoes)
Squeeze of lemon, maybe one tablespoon

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until softening. Add spices, jalapeno, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in chickpeas and add water or broth. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Using a potato masher, mash the chickpeas to desired consistency. I like it chunky. Add tomatoes, cover, and simmer another 10-20 minutes on low. Stir in lemon juice at the end. Serve with cilantro, green onion, jalapeno, etc. I like mine with HOT SAUCE of course!

I also had an arugula salad with some lemon and olive oil and bleu cheese. Boring. But very tasty!


I'm wiped out. Why, you ask? Well, being in a crazy, three-day Indian wedding festival (I don't know how else to describe it), hanging out with my besties, flying halfway across the country and back, barely sleeping, and arriving to a very sick dog has taken all of my pep.

Did I mention the part about the sick dog? And that I haven't slept since Monday night because he was up, moving around and stretching, trying to get comfortable with a tummy ache? Also the fact that I picked him up from his boarding facility yesterday morning COVERED IN POOP, have given him two baths, and spent nearly $200 at the vet to get him some antibiotics. I'm a bit grouchy and exhausted.

Anyway, it was an awesome, fun, crazy, bittersweet, eye-opening-in-some-ways weekend. And, I got my first henna designs:

Should have taken a picture of it after it darkened, and now it's fading rapidly. Darn. It's pretty cool, but I've been self-conscious about it when outside of the wedding party. I got to wear a sari and a bindi, eat tons of food I've never tried before, and meet and see some awesome people. Plus, I got some:

Garrett Popcorn. Chicago mix. This stuff is the business. I remember the first time I had it. My mom was staying with me in Chicago, and I came home from work to find her on the couch, watching TV, gobbling popcorn and drinking champagne. (This explains so much about why I am who I am.) She said she had just been walking by a Garrett's store, saw the line, and thought she'd try it. The lady in front of her informed her she "got to get the mix." So with great trepidation she did, and we scarfed it like maniacs. Who knew that slightly soggy cheese popcorn and sweet, crunchy caramel corn could make such an awesome pair? 

These tiny bags were in our in-room gift bags, and oh my gosh, I've been rationing it. And not sharing. The hubs gets NONE. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Here we have the elusive poutapotamus. This species becomes clingy, pouty, and avoids eye-contact when concerned. He only comes out when he sees my suitcase with things in it... Sorry, little dog. You're going to have to go play your face off for a few days.


Since I began practicing Bikram, I've gotten a lot of reactions from different people. Some are impressed that I can stand the heat. Others, mostly yoga instructors, say it's cultish and they disagree with the methodology. One friend even said "ewww, that's like exercising in a petri dish!" Sure, it's the same 26 poses repeated each class. Yes, it's 105 degrees, and it smells like feet, and butt, and armpit, and sweat. You bet your bottom dollar that I look like I just walked in a rainstorm when it's finished. But I like it.

So maybe I don't completely buy into the doctrine/cultish aspect of it, but I like knowing what comes next in the series, and I like feeling like I've worked hard in the heat. Even the inconvenience of requiring that I shower immediately after each class hasn't bothered me yet. But I think the thing I have picked up on and enjoyed the most is that you don't have to do things PERFECTLY, you just have to give it your maximum effort. I'm a perfectionist, and this is definitely an area of my life where I am not perfect now and may not ever be. I hate that! I like steep learning curves, and knowing and doing everything quickly. Not gonna happen with this yoga. Yet I continue to go and improve and enjoy it.

In my everyday life, outside of that 120 minutes of yoga time door-to-door, I'm applying another a valuable lesson. It may sound contradictory or hypocritical, considering I've just said that I'm a perfectionist, but a lot of things in life have allowed me to just coast. Skate by on the bare minimum and get away with "doing well." I would say mostly personal things... not really work, but my own accomplishments or tasks or hobbies. Often, no matter how simple the task or how little it mattered, I have had guilt when I didn't give that 100 percent I knew I was capable of. It feels like cheating, and I'm not a cheater.

Especially with Bikram, with my health, I'm learning how good it feels to not cheat myself. Not cut corners, but also not beat myself up when I know I've done my best, and all I can do is hope it's either good enough or I will learn from any mistakes. Heck, I'm paying to be there! I might as well get my money's worth, right? Some recent developments in life are requiring that I not beat myself up too much about things and instead learn from them. Do what I do best and not make the same mistake twice. I just hope I can lighten up on myself a little bit and accept that I don't have to be perfect all of the time. We shall see...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

are you sure it wasn't brews then bridges?

I've run across dozens of bridges in my running career. Footpaths over Lake Shore Drive, bridges over the Chicago River, even icy crossings constructed from two-by-fours and love. Never have I fallen. Until Sunday. I went down hard, thinking "MY FACE!" the whole time. Ugh.

Now, I haven't been doing much running in the past several months. After our failed attempt to train for a marathon in one of the hottest summers on record in Chicago (luckily derailed by moving three time zones away), I was pretty sick of running. I took a break. For half a year. Yes, I grew a little beer belly. I did hike, and walk, and run on occasion, just not more than three or four miles at a time. I bought some little weights and did OnDemand workouts. Then we got the brilliant idea to sign up for the Bridge to Brews 10K, and we didn't train for it. Needless to say I was pretty nervous about running, but I've been yoga-ing, so my core strength felt good. And my aches and pains earned by a few years on the pavement seemed eased. I figured I could at least finish, even if it wouldn't be pretty. Plus, we paid good money!

I don't know if you were aware of this, but Chicago is flatter than a pancake. I grew up in flipping KANSAS and I think Chicago is flat. Not one damn hill. Portland, on the other hand, is the city of hills (actually roses, but I say hills). Knowing the change in elevation would be a struggle for me, I started off slowly and sent the hubs to run ahead at his own pace. He looked really unhappy when a 9-year-old zipped by us, so I sent him on his way. Approximately 45 seconds after he left me, crossing the Fremont Bridge, and I planted my left foot on a grate, caught my right toe on a bolt, and went straight down.

The good news: I only got stepped on once, nothing was broken, and I landed on my butt before my hands! The bad news: My PRIDE was injured, and if I had not fallen, I would have finished in my best per-mile race pace ever (sub-9:30... fast for this slowpoke). Oh, and at yoga yesterday, a girl recognized me as "the girl who fell on the bridge, we wondered if you finished!" Yes, yes I did. Just call me tougher than I look but still whiny. And really angry about that time! Dare I sign up for another race.... ?

Friday, April 15, 2011

two lips.

Just this week, I noticed the leaves were budding on the trees. The cherry blossoms and daffodils have been in bloom for a while now, but I'm ready for the spring green of new foliage.

I bought some local tulips on sale at the store the other day, and they are the brightest, girliest pink I've ever seen in a flower. Love them. I put them in my (only) vase and set them on the table where I have my favorite Heath Ceramics bowl. If you haven't checked out Heath, do it now! They are an awesome mid-century ceramics company. I went to the factory when I was in Sausalito, California, a few years ago. Fabulous place, amazing wares. I love the pale green on this piece.

Now we just need the sun to show up, right Portland??

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

bringing wide back.

The skinny jean look has been in for what seems like forever. It took me a while to get on board with leggings, peg legs, jeggings, etc. Suddenly, one day, I couldn't imagine my life without a pair of unpants and a tunic. I forsook my boot-cut jeans and tailored trousers for pants tucked into boots and shapeless, bum-covering sweaters. It was as comfy as wearing yoga pants, only I was appropriate for public consumption!

Then, slowly in the past couple of months, I started noticing more flares on the fashion and style blogs I frequent. Even bellbottoms seemed to be making a comeback! And one day, I put my favorite pair of boot-cut jeans back on with my new Frye boots. It was like a fog was lifted. I didn't HAVE to give up my figure-flattering jeans completely! Just a few weeks ago, I came across my newest, most coveted obsession: The EmersonMade. Original Bluebells.

Oh boy, these are awesome. Portland is the land of jorts and Tom's shoes, and these seem to be the polar opposite. But I'm OK with that. Hipsters be damned, I am ready for some wide-leg jeans and four inch heels. Welcome back to my life, tailoring. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

the story of the shopping cart.

I came home yesterday and there was a shopping cart sitting in front of our neighbors' driveway. Not directly in front, but off to the side. I didn't think much of it other than "huh, wonder how that got there?" A couple of hours later, I was making the bed in our guest room, which looks out onto the street, and I saw our neighbor get out of his car, glower at our front door, and kick the shopping cart into our driveway.

Seriously. Can you say passive-aggressive neighborhood? And I haven't even told you the story of the neighbors across the street and their note... maybe another day...

Tuesday is garbage/recycling day, so when I finished making up the bed, I went outside to put the bins on the curb for early-morning pick up. I grabbed the cart and hauled it up onto the sidewalk so at least it would be out of the street, GLARING at the neighbors' front door the entire time. Then, I fretted. What the heck am I going to do with a shopping cart? I know the neighbor made it MY problem, but it's not my style to just pass the buck and do that to someone else. So, I was awake half the night, somewhere between anger and confusion, thinking about an abandoned Safeway shopping cart. Full of grocery bags. What was in those bags? Body parts? Drugs? My imagination ran wild.

I woke up this morning and it was still there. Staring at me, half on the curb, half in the gutter. I had called the store to see if they would come get it, but I got a "not our problem" response. It took all of my energy not to run next door and ask them to help me put it in their truck and get rid of it. It certainly wasn't going to fit in my Jetta! But I resisted and took the dog to play some fetch and clear my mind.

The happy ending, if you want to call it that, is that as I rounded the corner on my way back from the park, I saw a man walking off, pushing the cart in front of him! I lingered at the corner, letting him take his time. I've never been so grateful for recycling day and the folks who pick the bottles out for the 5 cent return. Hopefully, it will help him collect lots of cans and bottles and he'll get some decent cash.

These are the days that I miss Chicago and its direct (OK, actively aggressive) tone. I am so not cut out for this friendly neighborhood business.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

dinner(s), 4/7 & 4/8/11.

Thursday night, I just didn't feel like cooking, so we went to Podnah's down the street. They just relocated to our neighborhood, and everyone raves about the barbecue. We had a salad (mmm, bleu cheese dressing) and a half-rack of ribs with some brisket and sides. It was pretty good. Of course, nothing is as good as my beloved Oklahoma Joe's. The ribs were decent, and the sauces were nice, the sides were sides. Prices were good, too. My only real complaint was that the brisket was so poorly cut that it looked like someone else had eaten it first. It was totally mangled!

Friday, we decided to go for a walk and have an in night and make dinner. It was just lovely out. Sunny and 60 and beautiful, so we set the patio chairs up in the back garden and Dave made up a little cheese plate. We went to a great wine tasting last weekend and decided to open one of the bottles we had picked up, fought over the pickled artichokes, and had a nice, decompressing moment.

Just because I am unemployed doesn't mean my week was a piece of cake! I earned my share of that delicious, creamy lump of cheese on that platter. 

Dinner was spice-rubbed, grilled pork tenderloin, coconut rice with cilantro (I think I ate most of it!), and spicy asparagus. Big winner, and the hubs grilled the pork perfectly! This is all making us sound like major carnivores. Hey, we ate vegetarian Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday! Sometimes, you just have to use what you already have around.

For the record, last night we had a frozen pizza. Kirkland cheese, to be exact. Not really post-worthy (but meat free)!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

dinner, 4/6/11.

Trying to get through whatever is in the fridge this week, so we had grilled chicken breast marinated in some lemon juice, honey, Stuarto's garlic olive oil (from my dad!), salt, and pepper. We threw some julienned preserved lemon on top.

Since it IS spring, according to the calendar, I've been craving light foods like pasta salad. Instead of pasta, I used some quinoa and all of the nearly gone veggies in the drawer. Today that was mini bell peppers, green onions, some broccoli slaw and basil. I tossed it in lemon juice and olive oil, Lawry's seasoned salt, and fresh pepper. It was a workable, pretty healthy meal. Of course, there is hot sauce on the quinoa. YUM.

I am not a food photographer. I plan on taking some photography classes one of these days. This was the best I could do!

food rules.

One of the huge blogging cliches: Posting about food. I know. But I love food and enjoy cooking. Not everything is a success, but usually I can put a meal on the table that is decent, ideally not too expensive, healthy, and probably won't make you sick. Neither the hubs nor I is picky. It's one of my favorite, favorite things about my husband: He will try almost anything once, and he is adventurous with food. I'm the same way, so it stays pretty easy around here, save for the occasional battle of man-wants-meat vs. girl-wants-veggies. Generally, and luckily, the only challenges are...

No white stuff - includes mayo, yogurt, sour cream, overly stinky cheeses, etc.
No veggie products that pretend to be meat - there was an incident with some vegan pepperoni, and he has never recovered

No bananas
No maple syrup - no seriously, I can barely sit at a table when someone is eating pancakes

So, I broke one of the rules last night and used mayo in a recipe. If it's cooked, it gets past him undetected. And it was a hit!  Grilled eggplant sandwiches have been in the rotation for a while, but I decided to mix it up and go with "oven-fried" eggplant cutlets served it on toasted ciabatta rolls with fresh mozzarella, basil, tomato, and balsamic onions. Calorie-wise, it might be a little more than using just olive oil, but we didn't have anything besides a simple arugula salad on the side. Dessert was an epic fail, though... apparently the white food category includes creme caramel... "I like the caramel, but it's too eggy!" Sigh. A waste of a water bath and worry over burned sugar!

So, I am going to try and make a habit of (remembering to photograph and) posting dinner menus for doable weeknight meals, and maybe fancy weekend meals. I have a hard time remembering successes, so it would be great to record them for my own use! I'll try and post recipes if/when I use them. If I make something up, maybe I'll type out the recipe. Last night's dinner...

Oven-fried eggplant cutlets
Balsamic onions

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hiking hiatus.

See those toes? (Sorry people who hate feet, and sorry everyone for making you look at my ugly feet. At least I used Hipstamatic to gussy them up a little.) I touched those toes today. Actually, I sat down, leaned forward, hooked my fingers over my big toes, straightened my knees COMPLETELY, and lifted my heels off of the ground. Yeah. I touched my toes!

Probably not a huge deal to most of the population, but I've never been flexible. I always had one of the worst scores on the sit-and-reach test in gym. I've never done the splits. My toe-touches stunk. In the interest of gaining some flexibility, strengthening my core, and working out some running ouchies, I thought I'd try yoga.  So today I attended my fourth Bikram class in the past week, and I smiled during class, and I touched my toes! It's been raining excessively, even for Portland, and chilly, so I thought a beginner's month of yoga would give me something to do and maybe lift my spirits. Some days, it has been awful. But the other two! I've felt great, considering that it's hell, and I've impressed myself in the process.

I could get hooked on this... if I stay unemployed, and if it were always as affordable as the intro special. Maybe it will stick! I sure like touching my toes.

Oh, the color on those cod-white dogs is Siberian Nights by OPI. One of my favorite colors ever. It's a deep, dark purple. I know when the instructor says "pull those goth toenails higher!" she's talking to me. Love it!

Saturday, March 19, 2011


When I was college, one hundred years ago, the "look" for sorority girls was black, flare-legged, tight pants that I called "porn pants," and the ubiquitous Kate Spade diaper bag became THE bag to carry with said pants. Or any time, really. I was never a fan. Rigid-sided and almost triangular, in a black fabric, it looked just like its nickname: A diaper bag! I'll cop to wearing the black pants, but really, Kate Spade never did it for me.

I changed my mind. J'adore this bag. Especially in this amazing orange, though I wish it were a little bigger. The larger Scout only comes in natural and white. It strikes me as the perfect bag for a day trip or walking around the city. Any city. Plus, I do like that smaller purses limit the amount of junk I can carry around. I'm adding this to the rapidly growing list of Things I Wish I Could Buy Upon Employment.

Kate Spade Essex Small Scout in Orange

Friday, March 18, 2011

oh mi oh my.

Ummm, I cut my finger to the bone last night. My most important finger. My giving-the-bird finger. Now I'm worried it's going to fall off. I know... I'm being a giant baby, but it's pretty much the worst injury I've ever sustained. It may have required stitches, but luckily my awesome brother brought me first aid supplies and we fixed it. And now I can't button my pants.

An aside, this reminds me of a game that my brother likes to play called "would you rather?" with twisted questions, that a certain friend of mine is very good at asking, like "would you rather have fins for hands or all proteins and vegetables taste like rusty nails?" This inevitably leads me to ask if I'm able to put on my own pants and a bra if I have fins for hands (the answer was yes, I would learn).

Anyway, the lesson here is USE THE SAFETY GUARD THAT COMES WITH YOUR MANDOLINE SLICER. Also, make this recipe below from Fried Wontons for You. The hubs doesn't like corned beef, even on St. Patrick's Day (I know...), and sandwiches were on my mind. It's hard to make things that are convenient for a late-night meal. This was perfect. I think of it as a take on bahn mi, and it is amazing.

The pickling technique is ingenious and I will be using it again soon. Who knew it could be so simple?! I roasted the pork early in the day, sliced it cold, and made sriracha mayo instead of the mustard. Also, I sprinkled minced red onion and a hearty handful of cilantro onto butter-toasted sourdough rolls. So. Freaking. Good. Would be really great for a casual party on small tea rolls. I can't wait to make it again!

Roasted Pork Loin Sandwich

P.S. Sorry there are no pictures. Hers are better anyway. And this took me 45 minutes to write with my Franken-finger. OUCH.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

not p*rn.

Here is a beautiful Web site full of celebrities at their best. I think it's easy to forget that they ARE real people. My favorites are when they are caught off-guard, but in a good way, not in a drunk-and-in-the-bushes way.

This Is Not Porn

EDIT: This has to be one of my FAVORITES.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Are you a hugger? Slate has an interesting article today from a vehement non-hugger.

I am a hugger. I'm worse after a couple glasses of wine, too. Sometimes I even devolve into a snuggler. (Though I could totally be converted to the double-cheek kiss, or just the single-cheek kiss as my girlfriends in New York do.) However, I can respect that lots of people are not. The only thing more awkward than the dead-fish handshake is the dead-fish hug. The half-assed, patting-the-back, oh-god-we're-doing-this semi-embrace. Yuck.

The thing I don't like about this article is that she's made me feel like a needy puppy, pressing myself on everyone around me. Look, I know those people, and they are annoying. I don't like being lumped into one big category of HUGGERS. I try to read people's body language and emotions, and I respect the non-huggers out there. Is the onus on the hugger or the hug-ee to deflect the embrace? I'm not trying to tongue kiss you! Now come give me a squeeze.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Conversation we had on Saturday:

Me: So those things I asked you to do...
D: Yeah (rattles them off)
Me: Oh, so you remembered? You're just making me ask you about them?
D: No, I just don't want to do them.
Me: Well, that's obvious...

And then we laughed like maniacs. Love being married to my guy. I don't know how I got so lucky and he picked me. ME! 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

You can always go back, can't you?

I went for a run today (on an empty stomach - what was I thinking?), and halfway through my miserable run (due to not eating anything since last night), I had a mind-clearing realization (and not the good kind where you become a vegan or stop drinking martinis): As of next week, I've officially been "unemployed" for six months. What a loser! I mean, I guess I could get a pass and say less than five since we landed in Oregon in mid-October. Still, I felt terrible.

We moved our life halfway across the country, but what have I done to move my life forward? Sure, I've brainstormed and crafted, cleaned and entertained, hiked and read, baked thousands of calories worth of chocolate, but I have little to show for it. I am job hunting, and it's not fruitless, but it still somehow seems discouraging. Not contributing is not how I roll. I worry that poor D is going to wake up one day and go "why am I hauling around this hundred-and-mrrumphthing pound bag of flesh around in my life?" Not that he ever would. He never, ever makes me feel bad about our current situation. Believe me, I try and find ways to make up for it, but I want to be doing more to help US.

Luckily for me, I have an AMAZING and supportive set of friends and family in addition to an awesome husband. Many of them are far away, but I'm (obviously) an embracer of technology and find a variety of ways to kvetch and moan to them from afar. (TY, dear people.)

Despite being somewhat nervous/anxious/sad/worried about my future, I cannot help but feel mostly optimistic. I don't want to jinx it, but there is a twitching encouragement in my gut that says fantastic things, even more fantastic things!, are right on the horizon. I just have to look forward and hope I can make everyone proud of me one of these days and keep counting all of my many blessings. At the end of the day, I'm a damn lucky girl.

Monday, February 21, 2011


We hiked up some of the Wahkeena Falls Trail today, past Fairy Falls and up to the Devil's Rest junction. It's a lovely hike that winds through a very narrow canyon and has some beautiful features. We decided to come back down the Vista Point trail, which we had never ventured, and I wish I'd had my real camera today. It was sunny and lovely and mossy the whole hike. Had we been prepared, we would have stuck it out for a couple of extra miles up to Devil's Rest, but a seven-mile hike wasn't in the cards today.

While descending from Vista Point, we came upon the biggest tree I've ever seen in my entire life. No joke. Now, I've never seen the Redwoods of California, but I have to imagine this could rival some of the smaller ones. On top of it, half of the entire tree was charred black from a forest fire. I'm guessing it had to be more recent than the 1983 fire that killed Keith Lemmons, but wow. Between the char and the woodpecker holes, this old dame has seen quite a bit of action in her day. I'm going back for better photos soon. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A rainbow of reading

You know, I spend a lot of time thinking about home design and furniture. I love blogs like Apartment Therapy, stores like Room & Board, and even paint samples on Farrow & Ball. Current obsessions include antlers, crystals, copper accents, stacks of books, and wool everything. I make little notes on things I like, and mull over when I will have the farm table I've wanted for years. And when it all boils down to it, I don't much care for how my home looks.

I don't think it's that I don't have a sense of style, or an idea of what I want. It's really just that we are currently renting and I don't want to commit to a look/design/serious item that isn't going to "go" with my eventual own home. We have lots of odds and ends of furniture, and some of it fits, but some of it is just being put to use at the moment. And I think that is OK. We are lucky to have what we do, especially a couple pieces of nice furniture and several lovely rugs, and I think people who come visit us are comfortable in our home.

The one thing I do love about our house right now is my bookshelf. After living in 750 square feet with another person for several years, and having my books collect dust in storage, I love having a bookshelf in the middle of the living room. Granted it's a cheapo Ikea bookshelf, but it fits the bill for now. On a whim, I decided to color-coordinate our favorite books, and I'm digging the look. Three cheers for obsessing!